We are nearing the end of the first apostolic movement of Jesus under the New Covenant Church. It is a significant period in which much of the New Testament was being written!
This section focuses primarily upon Paul’s imprisonment. He will be in chains by the end of this passage and he will remain in chains until the end of the book.
Read Acts 21:27-36
In Acts 9:15-16, Jesus told Ananias that Paul’s testimony would go before Gentiles and kings and that he would face much suffering. We appear to be on the heels of the fulfillment of that promise.
How does the Apostle Paul handle it? The Apostle, one “sent” by God, is now in chains and no longer able to go! What is God doing? What is going through the apostle’s mind as…
Once again Paul was accused, beaten, and arrested.
Paul Is Accused (27-29)
Whether or not Paul was wrong for purifying himself, God didn’t let him follow through with it. His purification was cut short by false accusations.
Jews from Asia (possibly Ephesus) accused him of being against three things: The People, The Law, and This Place.
Time and time again Paul’s preaching to the Jews has led to his persecution. Yet, he continued to follow the same pattern. He never gave up hope that at least some of his fellow countrymen would respond.
Paul was willing to be “cut off from Christ” in order to see his kinsmen saved (Rom. 9:3). The accusations that Paul was against the Jews, the Law, and the temple were completely unfounded and devastating to hear.
The accusation echoes what the mob accused of Stephen (6:13-14). Paul now faces the same condemnation he had approved of some 25 years prior (8:1).
The more serious charge was that Paul profaned the temple by bringing a Gentile into the inner courts. This was a capital offense (even for Roman citizens)!
Christian, expect opposition! Expect to be the recipient of false accusations. Expect to be attacked for your faith! Expect it from those closest to you. Then, know that God is up to something much greater than we can ever comprehend from our circumstances.
The inevitable result of Paul’s visit to Jerusalem was predetermined by a God who was working all things together for His glory and Paul’s good.
Paul’s accusations were swiftly followed by…
Paul Is Beaten (30-32)
The irony is that the one who was seeking purification was falsely accused of defiling the temple. Now, they dragged Paul out of the temple so they wouldn’t defile it with his blood.
Any threat to their worldview had to be done away with. They would not tolerate any opposition, which reveals the weakness of their position.
Roughly 200 soldiers, stationed near the temple, appeared on the scene (v.32). If it weren’t for their swift response, Paul would have been executed by the mob.
A Cloud of Witnesses tells the stories of Martyrs who would sing hymns, quote Scripture, and encourage their disciples while burning to death. What could produce such a response?
The Romanian pastor, Josef Tson, who was exiled in 1981 for preaching under Communist rule, wrote:
“Suffering and martyrdom have to be seen as part of God’s plan; they are His instruments by which He achieves His purposes in history and by which He will accomplish His final purpose with man.”
Throughout history revivals have been sparked by Christians who were willing to lose their lives. How much are you willing to suffer for the Name of the Lord? Would you be willing to die like Paul was (21:13)? Would you face your death with the courage of the martyrs in history?
Would you be able to look past your circumstances to see that…God is up to something much greater than we can ever comprehend from our circumstances.
The only reason Paul’s beating didn’t result in death was because of his…
Paul Is Arrested (33-36)
John Stott points out that the same word is used for “seizing” (v.30) and “arresting” (v.33) suggesting, “It is a striking example of Luke’s aim to contrast Jewish hostility with Roman justice.” Later on, the tribune will write to Felix stating that he “rescued” Paul from the Jews who were about to kill him (23:27).
God protected Paul from being killed by the angry mob through the hands of the Roman tribune. Paul knew how corrupt the Roman government was. He was no friend of theirs, yet he understood that God was accomplishing his purposes through them. The only reason they had any authority was because God had granted it to them (Rom. 13:1-6).
The mob had become so violent that the soldiers had to carry Paul into the barracks (v.34). The scene concludes with the crowd shouting “Away with him!” (v.36). F.F. Bruce comments,
“The shout ‘Away with him!’ which pursued him as he was carried up the steps was the shout with which Jesus’ death had been demanded not far from that spot some twenty-seven years before (Luke 23:18; John 19:15).”
God had given Paul a mission, that, on the surface, appears to be a giant failure. But, actually, God was accomplishing his purposes perfectly.
WSC Q.11 What are God’s works of providence? God’s works of providence are his most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures and all their actions.
The rejection of Paul culminates in this all-too-familiar mob scene.
Paul is being treated much like his Savior was treated. False accusations led to his arrest and trial.
Millions of foreign Jews have flooded Jerusalem for Passover. He never would have had the chance to proclaim his message to so many had he not been arrested!
God is up to something much greater than we can ever comprehend from our circumstances.
After narrowly escaping death, Paul wants to stay and speak before this raging crowd! In fact, he begs the tribune to let him speak to the crowd.
If God should give you the privilege of suffering for his Name, are you prepared to respond?